A visiting American filmmaker vacationing in Mexico convinces the area's foremost bullfighter to give him lessons so that he may impress a beautiful local senorita. Unfortunately, the romantic interlude turns into sadness when the cocky and cavalier attitude of the amorous American towards the dangerous sport accidentally causes the death of the famous matador. Tragically, the director later spent time in Mexico as in the story and ironically his trip ended with the accidental death of the star bullfighter Carlos Arruza.
Director Budd Boetticher's cut of "The Bullfighter and the Lady" runs 126 minutes. For its initial release it was cut down to 87 minutes by John Ford.
Boetticher's fascination with bullfighting led him to spend ten years (1958-1968) in Mexico working on a documentary about one of the sport's greatest toreros, Carlos Arruza. The result was the film "Arruza," but the experience proved costly for Boetticher: his marriage fell apart, he was plagued by health problems, his Hollywood career came to an end, and, most tragic of all, Arruza and several members of the director's crew were killed in an automobile accident before filming was completed. Boetticher's ordeal is movingly recounted in a book he wrote about that period, entitled "When in Disgrace."